I visit Ireland several times a year on business. To date, I have never experienced any problems. This ended with my latest trip last week. On the Tuesday as we were short of time I deprived my Irish colleague of lunch so that we could get to our next meeting on time. He wasn’t going to let me do it twice. On Wednesday, after our morning meeting in Monaghan he suggested that we had time for a snack in the local hotel. We didn’t! Two hours later when we arrived back in Dublin and running late for our next meeting I knew that I had eaten something that probably had been past its best by date.
By the time I reached my hotel room that evening I was in big trouble. I eventually called reception and asked them to get a doctor. A doctor failed to materialise. It was three in the morning before I finally managed to get any sleep. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I had a meeting arranged for 09:30 and another at 16:00. My flight home wasn’t until 19:20. I opted to go ahead with the meetings, and somehow managed to survive the day with frequent toilet visits. I was less confident about the flight and the drive home, and don’t know how I made it. I finally got home just before 23:00 and suffered another very disturbed night.
By Friday afternoon I was in such pain and discomfort that my wife telephoned our doctor. She got me down to the surgery where I came close to passing out in the entrance. A nurse fetched a wheelchair and they got me into a recovery room and onto a bed where the doctor gave me a painkilling injection. After this things slowly began to ease as the pain reduced and my muscles relaxed. Another two days passed before I started to feel even remotely human again. The only bonus is that I have lost seven pounds in weight!
On Wednesday night while I suffered alone in my hotel bathroom I prayed like never before. I begged God to heal me. But God didn’t seem to answer. The pain didn’t go and the diarrhoea didn’t stop. I couldn’t understand it because I know from personal experience that God does answer prayer for healing. However, on this occasion God’s answer was to bring me home safely, provide compassionate medical care, and allow me to recover gradually.
There are obvious parallels with life in general. How often do we pray seeking answers that suit us, expecting an easier ride through life than we appear to be getting? There is a danger that in being obsessed with our wants and needs we might miss the fact that we have been answered, but that God’s answer is different to what we expected. Perhaps we need to remember that rather than the promise of an easy journey, God’s primary promise is that He will bring us safely home. All we have to do is place our hands in His and trust Him completely.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4 NLT)